Alice-Azania Jarvis: Wedding gift costs - how much do I spend?

In The Red
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The Independent Online

Yes. That, popular consensus seems to be, is the answer to last week's closing question: would a garlic crusher be a terribly bad wedding gift? What honeymooning couple, you cleverly pointed out, has any use for garlic? Not very good for the wedding night is it (wink wink, nudge nudge).

Equally unacceptable were the wastepaper basket (too functional) and the single highball glass (too cheap). In my defence, these weren't simply ideas dreamed up on my own. They were actually on the wedding list – garlic crusher included. But not to worry. I think I've found a compromise: I've opted for a very pretty salad bowl, respectable at £25.

Or at least I think that's respectable. But I really have no idea. On the grand scale of salad bowls, it certainly winds up higher that Ikea (in fact it's Sophie Conran, so it is really rather posh). But on the scale of wedding presents? Having selected my item, and proceeded smugly to the checkout, I was possessed by a fit of self doubt. Is £25 a suitably average amount to spend on a wedding? I wouldn't know. I've never been to one.

Given that the big day marks the union of two of my very favourite people, wouldn't this be the time to push the proverbial boat out? To spend the sort of money more often reserved for close family members on Christmas? The whole dilemma – am I under-spending? Will I look stingy? What are they expecting? – was only compounded by the fact that, this being a wedding list, the happy couple are fully aware of the price of everything in question. "How much is our friendship worth?" it seems to ask. The answer is rather a lot more than £25 – times two. I knew both these individuals at university, long before the decision to get hitched.

Suddenly, I found myself scrolling back, eyeing up the list for extras. Would the loveliness of the bowl be diminished by the addition of a pepper grinder? A napkin or two? It would, I think, which would be a shame because, had it not been on the list, I suspect I might have chosen it anyway. And so I decided not to do it. After all, the wedding's not just about the gifts – the gathering plays a role, too. Both symbolically and economically. What with transport, overnight accommodation and the obligatory new dress, it all adds up to rather a lot. Not too much – just enough to demonstrate my loyalty. So, for the foreseeable future, no pepper grinders in sight.

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